N.H. House Votes to Let Local Officials Have Final Say on Rescheduling Local Elections

May 2, 2018

The New Hampshire House of Representatives sided with town election officials in an ongoing debate over who should have the final say in rescheduling local elections.

The dispute stems from the last-minute snowstorms that showed up on the last two town meeting days in New Hampshire. In both cases, the Secretary of State’s office told local officials they weren't allowed to reschedule voting under existing state law.

While most local officials abided by that instruction this year, many also argued that they should have some way to push back the date in the face of severe weather or other emergencies.

On Wednesday, the House took up a bill that tried to spell out a clearer process for making that decision. In doing so, the chamber shot down an amendment that would in most cases require approval from the Secretary of State before a town could move their vote. The same general principle — that the Secretary of State should have the final authority over election scheduling decisions — was upheld in an earlier vote by the state Senate.

Instead, the House approved another version of the bill that put that decision in the hands of local officials